Francis and Layton Cougar are the new owners of Candy Kitchen Trading Post, directly across the nationally know Wild Spirit Wolf Sanctuary. Two days before the deal was complete on Dec. 22, 2014, Francis moved to Cibola County from San Antonio, Texas.
After growing up in Grants, Francis always wanted to return to northwestern New Mexico. Layton provided him with that opportunity when he called and asked Francis if he wanted to partner with him in purchasing the Trading Post. Layton is director of the Wolf Sanctuary and has been for many years. “We want the store to be more of a community-oriented location, kind of like back in the day,” explained Francis. “When I was a kid and went to the little store with grandpa and we ended up staying there for hours because the store was the central location of the town.”
Francis met Layton years ago when he was assisting his mother-in-law Jackie Evans, founder of the Wolf Sanctuary, build an enclosure for one of the wolves. Back then Layton was a volunteer. Despite Francis moving away from the area for many years, he and Layton stayed in contact.
Francis, now 53-years-old, is ready and excited for his new chapter in life. “The store really belongs to the community,” emphasized Francis. “What they want is what we stock.”
Currently, the store offers food items, propane, wood, general selection of hardware, and more. “A little of everything,” Francis described. “We are the only propane service within a 40-mile radius.”
On Saturday, the celebration begins at 11 a.m. and who knows what time it will end. “This is Candy Kitchen,” said Francis, “who knows what time we will go until. We just want to have a good time, socialize, and enjoy the weather – snow, rain, or sun.”
The regular store hours are Tuesday through Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and closed on Monday. But wait, like any other small town trading post in New Mexico Francis said, “I tell everyone, if they see my car out front, we are open.”
Francis noted that per a request, he is looking into offering more organic and glutton-free items.
“Our goal is to fill our shelves with everything our neighbors want and need,” Francis added. “Come check us out.”